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Sitting Bull (c. 1831 – 15 December 1890) was a Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux holy man and war chief, notable for his role in the defeat of George Armstrong Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
- The love of possessions is a disease in them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break, but the poor may not! They have a religion in which the poor worship, but the rich will not! They even take tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the earth, for their own use, and fence their neighbor away. ... If America had been twice the size it is, there still would not have been enough.
- Sitting Bull: The Collected Speeches, p. 75
- I have killed, robbed, and injured too many white men to believe in a good peace. They are medicine, and I would eventually die a lingering death. I had rather die on the field of battle.
- Recorded by Charles Larpenteur at Fort Union in 1867. Published in Utley, Robert M. The Lance and the Shield. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1993. p. 73.
- Look at me, see if I am poor, or my people either. The whites may get me at last, as you say, but I will have good times till then. You are fools to make yourselves slaves to a piece of fat bacon, some hard-tack, and a little sugar and coffee.
- Also told to Charles Larpenteur at Fort Union in 1867. Published in Utley, Robert M. The Lance and the Shield. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1993. p. 73.
- I hardly sustain myself beneath the weight of white men's blood that I have shed. The whites provoked the war; their injustices, their indignities to our families, the cruel, unheard of and wholly unprovoked massacre at Fort Lyon … shook all the veins which bind and support me. I rose, tomahawk in hand, and I have done all the hurt to the whites that I could.
- I am nothing, neither a chief nor a soldier.
- This is a good day to die. Follow me!
- Rallying cry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn (25 June 1876), quoted in Campaigns of General Custer in the North-west by Judson Elliott Walker
- You come here to tell us lies, but we don't want to hear them. If we told you more, you would have paid no attention. That is all I have to say.
- As recorded by reporters covering a speech made by Sitting Bull to U.S. military officers at a conference between the military and the Sioux who had retreated to Canada. Published in Utley, Robert M. The Lance and the Shield. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1993. p. 196.
- I will remain what I am until I die, a hunter, and when there are no buffalo or other game I will send my children to hunt and live on prairie, for where an Indian is shut up in one place his body becomes weak.
- I am here by the will of the Great Spirit, and by his will I am chief.… I want to tell you that if the Great Spirit has chosen anyone to be the chief of this country, it is myself.
- Testimony to the Dawes Commission (22 August 1883)
- Because I am a red man. If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. He put in your heart certain wishes and plans; in my heart he put other and different desires. Each man is good in the sight of the Great Spirit. It is not necessary, that eagles should be crows.
- Quoted in Vine Deloria, God Is Red: A Native View of Religion. Golden, Colo: Fulcrum Pub, 2003, cited to Virginia Armstrong, I have spoken; American history through the voices of the Indians. Chicago, Sage Books, 1971.
Quotes about Sitting Bull
- After the Ghost Dance spread across the Rockies to the Plains tribes it ran amok. ...The fervor attacked the Plains tribes virulently, particularly the Sioux, who were at that time the largest and the most intransigent of them all. The Sioux had been forced to submit to a series of land grabs and to indignities that are almost unbelievable when read about today. ...they were being systematically starved into submission—by the White Bureaucracy—on the little that was left of their reservation in South Dakota. ...From Rosebud, the Ghost Dance spread like prairie fire to the Pine Ridge Sioux and finally to Sitting Bull's people at Standing Rock. The Sioux rebelled; the result was the death of Sitting Bull and the massacre of the Indians (despite their ghost shirts) at Wounded Knee in 1890.
- Peter Farb, Man's Rise to Civilization (1968)